Strategies for jumpstarting user acquisition plateaus

The reality of advertising is that sustained, accelerated growth is not always possible. Many brands can face challenges when trying to expand their user base after reaching a certain threshold due to market saturation and diminishing returns on investment (ROI). However, the introduction of fresh strategies, particularly in-app advertising (IAA), can be a dynamic solution to confront these stagnation points. In this blog, learn strategic ways to revitalize campaign momentum, and how IAA can help performance marketers overcome plateaus and unlock new avenues for user acquisition.

Understanding the difference between performance plateaus and seasonality

Plateaus often signal that previously successful strategies have become less effective, leading to a decline in ROI. While it’s natural for campaigns to experience fluctuations, consistent underperformance or stagnancy could indicate a need for strategic reassessment. However, not all fluctuations signal trouble; as long as a campaign meets its goals, a temporary leveling-off in conversions or other KPIs isn’t inherently negative.

Keep in mind, there’s a difference between performance plateaus and times when campaigns typically see dips in activity. Here are a few examples of when slowing campaign activity might not be due to a plateau in performance but something else.

  • The start of a campaign: In the beginning, campaigns need to collect enough conversions and let models and creatives stabilize. With that said, it’s important to differentiate between a true plateau and the optimization process during which a campaign gradually finds its most effective strategy.
  • Seasonal dips: Plateaus can occur due to seasonality, weekend activity (when engagement slows), and advertisers pulling back ad spend. Recognizing patterns in consumer behavior related to time of year can help marketers adjust their expectations and strategies accordingly.
  • Product staleness: Plateaus can happen when apps or other products are old or there’s creative fatigue. Sometimes the challenge isn’t the advertising strategy but the product itself. Identifying when it’s time to refresh the product offering or creative approach can breathe new life into a campaign.
Questions to ask your media partner

If your campaign does not fall into the aforementioned categories, then the next step is to review your existing strategy with your media partner to identify the reason for the plateau. This includes evaluating certain marketing channels, apps, regions, etc. that might be underperforming.

One of the first questions to answer is: are you advertising where your audience is most active? It’s important to align your ad spend with the marketing channels your audience engages with the most — or else, you run the risk of wasting spend. For example, even though US consumers spend just 34% of their time engaging with Facebook, Google and Amazon, 60% of ad budgets are spent here. This shows a significant gap between ad dollars and consumer behavior — and a huge opportunity for marketers, agencies and brands to realign their spending.

Look at where your audience spends time and if it’s outside the walled gardens, make sure to advertise in those spaces. This is where in-app advertising has the potential to help your brand rapidly maximize and sustain that growth.

Below, find our playbook of strategic interventions for times when your IAA efforts plateau.

Strategic interventions to jumpstart a campaign 

We recommend asking your media partner to review and optimize your campaign in the following ways.

  • But, first, let your campaign collect enough data: Before you suggest any changes to your partner, ask them to review whether your campaign model has collected enough data. “Enough data” depends on the CPR (cost per registration) and budget of the campaign. For example, “enough data” for a campaign with a CPR target of $5 could be 100 conversions a day with a $500 daily cap. For the partner with a CPR goal of $1, we could potentially get 500 conversions a day. So “enough data” is relative to each Advertiser’s goal.

You might also set data collection thresholds by budget towards a specific media source. So, if your campaign is concentrating spend on a specific exchange, there may be enough information to make meaningful optimizations on that inventory source but you’ll still need to collect more data for other exchanges.

  • Review your strategy: Ask your partner to dive deep on the existing structure of your campaign. Which apps, channels, or regions are underperforming? Sometimes, it’s about trimming the fat — pausing or lowering bids on low-spend or underperforming segments and increasing bids on higher performing elements of your campaign.
  • Creative refresh: Don’t let ad fatigue set in. Creative refreshes and iterations can keep your audience engaged and clicking. To jumpstart fresh ideas, share creatives with your partner that have worked in the past on other channels, explore new ad formats, or ask your partner to show the results of their creative tests to inspire new iterations. By reevaluating our creative approach and making changes to the campaign’s ad formats, we were able to lift conversion rates for one of our clients by 37%.
  • Data deep dive: Review the data you are currently passing back to your partner. Are you providing them with enough of the right kind of data (for example, revenue data) to uncover new strategies and tweak machine learning models to elevate performance? If you’ve ruled out the need to move budget to higher quality sources and/or changing your creative approach, it might be time to test a new campaign model.

For example, if you have access to payer data you could ask your partner to build a payer propensity model that analyzes consumers’ actions to predict the likelihood that subsequent customers will make a purchase. Through continuous ML model iterations, we helped one client decrease CPR from $12 to $2.

  • Try new channels and offers: It might be time to jumpstart growth by refreshing your channels and offers. Introducing new offers, landing page iterations or marketing channels — especially if your product has been on the market for a while — can revitalize your campaign and unlock new sources of growth.
Plateau checklist:
  • Patience pays off: Recognize the difference between a natural optimization phase and a true plateau. Allow your campaigns to accumulate enough data for meaningful analysis.
  • Strategic assessment: Work closely with your media partner to dissect and understand your campaign structure. Identify underperforming elements and strategize on reallocating resources for optimized performance.
  • Creative revitalization: Regularly refresh your creatives to combat ad fatigue and keep your audience engaged so that your brand stays top of mind.
  • Leverage technology and data: Make sure you’re passing back the type of data your partner can use to make meaningful improvements to your campaign — e.g. if you’re optimizing for purchases, pass back purchase data. You should also make sure your partner is using the right type of model for your campaign. Models can vary greatly depending on the type of problem being solved and the specific data being evaluated.
  • Explore new channels and offers: Don’t shy away from testing new offers or marketing channels. Staying dynamic in your approach can uncover unexpected avenues for growth.
  • Work with a specialized partner: If you are exploring new marketing channels, it’s important to work with a partner that is an expert in that area of advertising. There are nuances to IAA so choose a partner who has experience navigating this space. Keep in mind that any DSP worth its salt will have the following capabilities:
    • Reporting: The ability to report on real time campaign data on a variety of dimensions and metrics.
    • Analysis: The ability to analyze campaign data to identify plateaus and make necessary bid changes to boost performance in real time.
    • Execution: The ability to implement campaign changes and A/B test them to see how they affect the campaign immediately.
Turning plateaus into opportunities for growth

By cultivating a deep understanding of your campaign’s unique dynamics, refreshing creatives, and leveraging data-driven insights, performance marketers can turn plateaus into valuable opportunities for sustained growth.

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